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J Clin Pharmacol. 1993 Mar;33(3):226-9.

Evidence of plasma CoQ10-lowering effect by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

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Institute of Internal Medicine, Catholic University Medical School, Rome, Italy.


Inhibitors of HMG-CoA reductase are new safe and effective cholesterol-lowering agents. Elevation of alanine-amino transferase (ALT) and aspartate-amino transferase (AST) has been described in a few cases and a myopathy with elevation of creatinine kinase (CK) has been reported rarely. The inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase affects also the biosynthesis of ubiquinone (CoQ10). We studied two groups of five healthy volunteers treated with 20 mg/day of pravastatin (Squibb, Italy) or simvastatin (MSD) for a month. Then we treated 30 hypercholesterolemic patients in a double-blind controlled study with pravastatin, simvastatin (20 mg/day), or placebo for 3 months. At the beginning, and 3 months thereafter we measured plasma total cholesterol, CoQ10, ALT, AST, CK, and other parameters (urea, creatinine, uric acid, total bilirubin, gamma GT, total protein). Significant changes in the healthy volunteer group were detected for total cholesterol and CoQ10 levels, which underwent about a 40% reduction after the treatment. The same extent of reduction, compared with placebo was measured in hypercholesterolemic patients treated with pravastatin or simvastatin. Our data show that the treatment with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors lowers both total cholesterol and CoQ10 plasma levels in normal volunteers and in hypercholesterolemic patients. CoQ10 is essential for the production of energy and also has antioxidative properties. A diminution of CoQ10 availability may be the cause of membrane alteration with consequent cellular damage.

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